Who has actually said a real “good-bye” to someone, a good-bye where you know you’re not going to see that person again, or a good-bye in which there is a high possibility that you will never see him or her again? I have, more then once. I believe that saying good-bye is never easy, but finding out that it wasn’t an actual good-bye is heart-warming. Letting someone go, due to death is hard, but letting someone go who is in the military and shipping off to war, is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Firstly, my brother who was a Marine went to war. Secondly, the Marines I have trained with, the Young Marines have also gone. Thirdly, my friend Patrick is going back to war for his second tour. But let’s take a step back into time to when he first left.
I remember the last time as if it was yesterday. It was the end of August 2005. I was having my going away/birthday/congratulation party all in one. It was a hot summer day and a very emotional one as well. First, I opened up my present with my friends in my room and read a long letter that made me cry about going away to college. After that, I remember going back outside and seeing Patrick walking up and it shocked me: he was in uniform. He gave me a hug and I asked him “why are you in uniform?” and he said “I felt like it; for you” and I told him that he didn’t have to do that. At that point I was floored I couldn’t believe it; I thought it was so sweet. This is because I didn’t except him to do that, I never thought he would, especially not for that kind of day. Till this day I still feel the same way, and it is more heart warming now than it was then. During the time he was there, we enjoyed the day and he talked to my brother about going to war. What they said, I don’t know, because they went off to the side. Patrick couldn’t stay long though, because he was shipping out the next day. But right before he left, we took a picture together; I still have it hanging on my wall, and when I look at it every day it make’s me smile.
While Pat went to war, I went to college. Now it might not seem hard to others but it was hard on me, because when we were younger we talked about both enlisting in the Marine Corps. During the time he was gone, it was very difficult on me; I didn’t know if he was hurt, dead, or alive because I had no way in getting in contact with him. Every day I would check the casualties list online, just to make sure he wasn’t on it. I think I cried my eyes out everyday, scared I would never see him again. Right when he left, Greenday came out with their song “Wake me when September Ends.” The video has to deal with a Marine going to war, and to this day I still get teary eyed when I hear it. As the months went on it didn’t get any easier, he was suppose to be there for a year. I finally wrote him this long letter even though I did not have his address (I still have it). But one day everything changed. I went with my brother and his family to Wisconsin for Easter weekend. My brother was going to help me get his address so I would be able to make contact with Pat, but he didn’t have to. This was because a day or two before we came back, I got a call from my dad; letting me Pat was home safe. I don’t think I have felt so happy and revealed that much at the same time. I had the biggest smile on my face; it was ear to ear.
Now a year later he is there again, all these feelings came back ten fold. He is someone I truly to care for and love. And even though this time it should be easier on me; it isn’t. I have his address so I can write him and send him care packages, but because our friendship and feelings have grown, it wasn’t easy say good-bye again; I don’t think it ever will. I just have to hope that it wasn’t the last good-bye.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.